EBT Change FAQs
Below are several commonly asked questions and answers about the changes made to the EBT (SNAP) program and how it is affecting your business. If you have any additional questions, please email EBT@getvms.com or call 888-902-6202.
Q: What is EBT?
A: EBT, short for electronic benefits transfer, is a government-run program in which qualified U.S. residents receive funds to pay for a number of personal necessities. These funds are distributed on payment cards that merchants can accept the same way they accept PIN debit cards.
Q: What are the changes to the federal EBT (SNAP) program?
A: The federal government has made changes to your state’s EBT merchant accounts. All merchants are required to supply their own equipment to continue to process EBT transactions. Starting September 21st, 2014 businesses accepting EBT will no longer be able to use their EBT compatible terminals free of charge. Merchants will now accept all transactions (EBT, Visa/MasterCard, and PIN based debit) through one piece of equipment.
Q: Why should I accept EBT and SNAP transactions if they are no longer paid for?
A: EBT transactions still cost less than processing credit or debit cards. Also, accepting SNAP opens up your business to a wider customer base.
Q: Why are the EBT (SNAP) hardware and fees no longer cost-free to me?
A: Because of the recent increase in security breaches and identity theft, EBT processing machines need to be updated to higher standards. The merchant processors which handled EBT transactions in the past are no longer receiving government subsidies. Therefore, they chose not to sponsor giving out new machines and are not covering any costs to give out updated processing machines.
Q: How can I get more information about accepting EBT payments?
A: Please contact VMS at 888-902-6202 and speak with a live EBT Specialist for additional information.
Q: How long does it take for my account to be approved?
A: We offer same-day approval to businesses that qualify.
Q: What are the different types of EBT?
A: There are two major types of EBT programs: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which was formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, and cash benefits, which include Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF), state general assistance and refugee benefits.
Q: Who uses EBT cards?
A: EBT payment cards are issued to people whose income is low enough that they qualify for financial assistance from the government. In our current economic climate, there are far more people than before from all walks of life who use EBT benefits to purchase the necessities they need for themselves and their families.
Q: How many people use EBT?
A: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 40 million people are currently receiving SNAP benefits; individual state governments track cash benefit users.